Time for educated strategic maneouvres, says Ronan Rooney

The first chartered surveyor in Galway, property arbitrator and personal development author Ronan Rooney has the mix of qualifications and experience to give a definitive balance view of the world we now find ourselves in.

Having completed a BA in philosophy and applied maths Ronan decided to join his father Ray in the property business and set out to master the highest property qualification — that is a chartered surveyor. After seven years Ronan qualified with a diploma in property economics from DIT, Bolton St and a BSC in surveying from Trinity College followed by two years of continual examination assessment while working with Jones Lang Wootton in Dublin. He qualified and became the first chartered surveyor in general practice in Galway.

A year later he completed the examination for associate membership to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and qualified as a property arbitrator.

Ray continues to work closely with him on all projects but from mid 2006 until January of this year Ronan concentrated on establishing a new compulsory purchase department and an international investment department specialising in Australia. The firm valued and acquired some €350 million worth of property last year for compulsory purchase.

In addition they negotiated on more than €150 million worth of property in Australia the most notable being a €25 million acquisition in the heart of Sydney. With the new departments fully operational in January of this year he became the CEO of the firm with responsibility for the overall operations and development of the company.

A horse lover like the rest of the family, he hunts with the Galway Blazers and showjumps on the amateur circuit reaching the last eight in the country in the RDS in 2006 and riding on one of the Irish teams in Tower Lands Essex in the UK in 2007. He was one of the founders and the first chairman of the Maree Oranmore Juvenile Soccer Club which has almost 400 members having only been founded in 2006.

On the Galway property market today Ronan says that in mid 2006 the property market, especially the residential market was spiralling in ascendance without justification, development sites were being acquired without any feasibility assessments or appraisals, leasing over acquiring property was ridiculed, business operation over property development was sneered upon, and regulations were non existent.

“Property owners privately reflected on the value of their portfolios without taking professional advice and never questioning the liquidity of the properties. The property market has and always will be cyclical and will return to positive growth. The timing of the recovery will be determined by the availability of funds, demand catching up to supply and public confidence returning to the market,” he said.

“Sellers do need to be realistic in their pricing and to take their agents’ advice. It is not a time for rash decisions but educated strategic manoeuvres to survive the challenging period.

“Businesses providing a good service at a competitive price will survive. The result is businesses who manage their overheads will continue to trade, occupy premises and employ people. In the same way people have to live in houses so occupation will continue albeit subject to a shift in demand from buying to leasing for the short to medium term.

He feels that the current residential oversupply should be eroded over the next 12 to eighteen months, supported by the fact that very few developers will develop and bring new stock to the market above the levels already being completed.

“I expect a dramatic shift from sales to lettings for most property sectors, professional advice demanded when negotiating new commercial lease terms, rent review and leased renewal disputes going to third party or arbitration, more sophisticated property valuations demanded by lenders and feasibility and residual appraisals insisted upon for new developments sites by both developers and financial institutions.”

“The latest interest rate reduction and forecasted further reductions is a long awaited positive and will begin to ease pressure. Galway will recover as it has done in the past. We have a long history steeped in vigilance and stealth. We were the fastest growing city in Europe for almost a decade. We were and continue to be renowned and envied for our mix of enterprise, education, tourism, infrastructure and culture.

Ronan lives in Maree, Oranmore with his wife Sharon and three children Rebecca, Adam and Jack. He is confident that the future is good for the proeprty business and new homebuyers.

“These are challenging times but we will pull through and the environment which will surface through all of this turmoil will be one focused on the collective interest, accountability and all underlined by integrity - the backbone of a successful society.

“I believe that in the near future we will look back and see this global economic crisis as a catalyst to protecting our future and ensuring our country and the world develops into a more regulated accountable and stable environment for the generations to follow. When stabilisation occurs there will be much more rigid regulations moving forward which is imperative and must be welcomed. ”

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